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Kharif and Rabi Crops

Cropping Seasons in India:

  • The agricultural crop year in India spans from July to June.
  • India has two main cropping seasons based on the monsoon: Kharif and Rabi.
  • Kharif Season: July to October, coinciding with the South-West/Summer Monsoon.
  • Rabi Season: October to March, corresponding to the North-East/Returning/Winter Monsoon.
  • Summer crops, known as 'jayvads,' are grown between March and June.

Similar cropping terminologies are used in Pakistan and Bangladesh:

  • 'Kharif' and 'Rabi' describe cropping patterns.
  • The terms originate from the Arabic language, where 'kharif' means autumn and 'rabi' means spring.

Kharif Crops:

  • Rice, maize, sorghum, pearl millet (bajra), finger millet (ragi) - cereals.
  • Arhar - pulses.
  • Soyabean, groundnut - oilseeds.
  • Cotton.

Rabi Crops:

  • Wheat, barley, oats - cereals.
  • Chickpea/gram - pulses.
  • Linseed and mustard - oilseeds.

Natural Farming

  1. Natural farming is a chemical-free alternative to traditional farming methods.
  2. It is an agroecology-based diversified farming system, integrating crops, trees, and livestock with functional biodiversity.
  3. Main Objectives:
    • Elimination of chemical inputs from farm practices.
    • Adoption of good agronomic practices for chemical-free produce.
    • Restoring soil fertility.
    • Reducing water usage.
    • Promoting sustainable and climate-friendly farming.
  4. Based on:
    • On-farm biomass recycling.
    • Emphasis on biomass mulching.
    • Use of on-farm cow dung-urine.
    • Periodic soil aeration.
    • Exclusion of all synthetic chemical inputs.
  5. Government Initiatives:
    • Promoted under schemes like BPKP (Bharatiya Prakritik Krishi Paddhati Programme, 2021) and PKVY (Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana, 2018).
    • Financial assistance of ₹12,200/ha for 3 years provided for cluster formation, capacity building, handholding, certification, and residue analysis.
  6. Various Forms of Organic Farming Promoted:
    • Homa Farming.
    • Cow Farming.
    • Vedic Farming.
    • Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF).
  7. Adoption and Effectiveness:
    • Adopted in several states like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, and Kerala.
    • Studies report its effectiveness (as per Niti Aayog, February 2022).
    • Around 2.5 million farmers practiced regenerative agriculture by 2021, expected to reach 20 lakh hectares in the next 5 years.
  8. Union Budget 2022-23:
    • Plans to spread natural farming throughout the country.
    • Initial stage to start within a 5-km wide corridor along the river Ganges.
    • Encourages states to revise agricultural university syllabi to meet the needs of natural, zero-budget, and organic farming.

Question for Ramesh Singh Summary: Agriculture & Food Management- 3
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Which of the following crops are typically grown during the Kharif season in India?
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Crop Diversification

  1. Crop diversification, or crop shift, involves integrating alternative or new crops into regional cropping systems.
  2. According to the FAO, in India, it is commonly seen as a transition from traditionally grown less profitable crops to more lucrative ones.
  3. Purpose and Benefits:
    • Tool for promoting sustainable agriculture.
    • Reduction in import dependence.
    • Potential for higher incomes for farmers.
    • DFI (Doubling Farmers Income) Committee suggests that shifting from staple cereals to high-value produce can significantly increase returns for farmers, enhance water use efficiency, and promote soil health sustainability.
  4. Challenges with Existing Cropping Pattern:
    • Skewed towards cultivation of sugarcane, paddy, and wheat.
    • Resulted in the depletion of fresh groundwater resources in many parts of the country.
    • Regions growing crops like paddy, wheat, and sugarcane face high to extremely high baseline water stress levels.
  5. Crop Diversification Programme (CDP):
    • A centrally-sponsored scheme since 2013-14, implemented under RKVY (Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, 2007).
    • Objectives:
      • Shift green revolution states (e.g., Punjab, Haryana, and Western UP) from paddy to alternative crops like pulses, oilseeds, maize, coarse cereals, nutri cereals, cotton, and agroforestry.
      • Address depleting water tables and declining soil fertility in these states.
    • Expansion in 2015-16 to include tobacco, aiming to shift areas under tobacco farming to alternative crops in tobacco-growing states.
  6. Economic Survey Findings:
    • As per the Economic Survey of 2022-23 and 2021-22, the Government's minimum support prices have played a role in encouraging crop diversification in the country.


International Year of Millets (IYM) - 2023:

  1. The UNO has designated the year 2023 as the International Year of Millets (IYM) to align with various UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  2. Millets are recognized as "smart food" due to their high nutritional value, offering substantial potential for livelihood generation, increased farmers' income, and ensuring global food and nutritional security.
  3. Initiatives by the Government:
    • The Indian government officially categorized millets as Nutri-cereals in April 2018.
    • As part of the National Food Security Mission (NFSM), millets have been included to provide nutritional support, with a specific sub-mission implemented since 2018-19 in 212 districts across 14 states.
  4. Startup Engagement:
    • India boasts more than 500 startups actively participating in the millet value chains.
    • The Indian Institute of Millets Research, under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana-Remunerative Approaches for Agriculture and Allied Sectors Rejuvenation (RKVY-RAFTAAR), has incubated 250 startups.
  5. Economic Survey Insights:
    • India's millet production exceeds 50.9 million tonnes, accounting for 80% of Asia's and 20% of global production.
    • The average yield of millets in India (1239 kg/ha) surpasses the global average (1229 kg/ha).
    • Millets in India are primarily grown as a kharif crop under rainfed conditions, demanding less water and agricultural inputs compared to other staple crops.
      Millets farming 
      Millets farming 

Question for Ramesh Singh Summary: Agriculture & Food Management- 3
Try yourself:
What are the main objectives of natural farming?
View Solution


Indian Food grain Storage Capacity:

  • As of the end of 2021, the total storage capacity available with the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and state agencies for foodgrains was 961.73 LMT, including covered godowns (792.81 LMT) and Covered and Plinth (CAP) facilities (168.92 LMT).
  • FCI possessed a capacity of 463.24 LMT, while state agencies had a capacity of 498.49 LMT out of the total storage capacity.
  • The stock of rice and wheat in the Central Pool was 529.59 LMT as of January 2021.

Concerns Regarding India’s Storage System:

  • The CAP with a capacity of 132 lakh MT cannot be considered as scientific storage.
  • Public agencies lack sufficient warehouses for proper storage of even half of the procured wheat and rice.
  • There is no effective strategy to control inflation sustainably, particularly concerning perishables like fruits and vegetables, which experience persistent seasonal inflation.
  • The cold storage capacity for all food items is only 29 MT, significantly below the production of potato alone, which is about 35 MT.
  • Only 10% of the fruits and vegetables produced in India have access to cold storage facilities.

Government Steps to Augment Storage Capacity:

  • Construction of godowns under the Private Entrepreneurs Guarantee Scheme (PEG) in PPP mode across 24 states.
  • Implementation of a PPP mode project to construct Steel Silos, aiming to modernize storage infrastructure and enhance the shelf life of stored foodgrains, with a capacity of 100 LMT.
  • Implementation of the Online Depot Management System (ODMS) by FCI to optimize costs and enhance functional efficiency. The system automates the entire process of depot operations, including foodgrain receipt, storage, maintenance, and issuance.


Agri-Reforms Called Back

Government Response to COVID-19 Economic Hardships:

  • Unlike other nations, India employed a two-pronged strategy in response to the COVID-19 economic challenges, focusing on both providing support to vulnerable sections and businesses and implementing structural reforms in various sectors.
  • During the pandemic, the government aimed to alleviate economic hardships faced by vulnerable sections and businesses while simultaneously implementing structural reforms, particularly in the agriculture sector.

Agricultural Reforms in India:

  • In May 2020, the Indian Government introduced the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, emphasizing self-reliance. The campaign included three significant policy decisions in June 2020 related to agricultural reforms:
  • Amendment of the Essential Commodities Act to create a competitive market environment, prevent wastage of agri-produce, and stabilize prices.
  • Introduction of the Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, to promote barrier-free trade of farm produce.
  • Passing of the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, to empower farmers to engage with various buyers.

Benefits of Agricultural Reforms:

  1. Essential Commodities Act amended:
    • Removal of certain commodities from the essential list encourages private investors and reduces regulatory interference.
    • Freedom for farmers and traders to produce, hold, move, distribute, and supply, promoting economies of scale and attracting private sector and foreign direct investment.
    • Increased investment in cold storages and modernization of the food supply chain.
  2. Barrier-free trade: 
    • Creation of an ecosystem for farmers and traders to enjoy freedom of choice in selling and purchasing produce.
    • Promotion of barrier-free inter-state and intra-state trade and commerce.
    • Introduction of an electronic transaction platform and a separate dispute resolution mechanism for farmers.
    • Expected to provide farmers with more choices, reduce marketing costs, and improve prices.
  3. Freedom to engage with buyers: 
    • Empowers farmers to engage with various buyers without fear of exploitation.
    • Transfers market unpredictability risk from farmers to sponsors, facilitating access to modern technology and better inputs.
    • Reduces marketing costs and enhances farmers' income.
    • Eliminates intermediaries, ensuring full realization of prices for farmers.
  4. Postscript:
    • The farm laws faced criticism, leading to prolonged protests. However, the government announced the withdrawal of the three farm laws in November 2021.
    • The Supreme Court had earlier put an indefinite stay on the implementation of these laws, setting up a committee to resolve the impasse between the government and protesting farmers' unions.

Question for Ramesh Singh Summary: Agriculture & Food Management- 3
Try yourself:
What was the total storage capacity available with the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and state agencies for foodgrains at the end of 2021?
View Solution

Seed Development

  • Seed quality accounts for 20 to 25 percent of productivity in agriculture.
  • Adoption of quality seeds is crucial for the enhancement of crop production in India.

Challenges in Seed Development:

  • Inadequate Research:

    1. There is insufficient research for the development of new seed varieties, especially those with high yield and resistance to pests, diseases, and climate variations.
    2. High cost of seeds for small and marginal farmers restricts access to quality seeds.
  • Genetically Modified Seeds:
    Resistance to the adoption of genetically modified seeds remains, due to uncertainty and competition.

  • Immediate Issues:

    • Adaptability:

      • Open-pollinated varieties can be developed by farmers, but hybrid varieties, which offer high yields, depend heavily on market availability.
      • This represents a significant challenge for small and marginal farmers.
    • Availability:

      • There is a shortage in the supply of quality seeds, with private players dominating the market over public entities.
      • Increasing the number of players in the seed market could improve this situation.
    • Research and Development:

      • The first green revolution in India focused on the development of seeds for paddy and wheat, with limited attention to seed development technologies.
      • Enhancing collaboration with the private sector is necessary to drive innovation in this area.
    • GM Seeds:

      • There are concerns regarding the affordability, environmental, and ethical issues related to GM seeds.
      • Issues like risks to the food chain, disease spread, and cross-pollination have raised questions about their mass introduction.


  • Fertilisers are a crucial but expensive input in agriculture. Since the mid-1960s, India has witnessed a significant rise in fertiliser use, supported by government subsidies, currently standing at around 8% of the total agricultural GDP.
  • Despite increased fertiliser usage, there has not been proportional growth in agricultural productivity. The declining response ratio of fertilisers since the 1970s indicates inefficient use in Indian agriculture.
  • Imbalances in fertiliser use include excessive dependence on urea, neglect of natural nutrient providers like compost and manure, discontinuation of inter and rotational cropping practices, diversion of subsidised fertilisers to non-agricultural use, and indiscriminate usage affecting soil fertility.

Needed Improvements in Fertilisation:

  • Crop-responsive and Balanced Use of Fertilisers: Facilitate optimal fertiliser use based on soil health and fertility. Utilize soil health cards to provide soil profiles, guiding farmers to improve crop yields even without subsidies.
  • Micro Nutrients and Organic Fertilisers: Address soil deficiencies in micro-nutrients like boron, zinc, copper, and iron by expanding the use of organic fertilisers. These fertilisers, besides being cost-effective, enhance soil fertility and structure.
  • Nutrient Management: Promote judicious use of chemical fertilisers, bio-fertilisers, and local organic manures. Leverage technology for soil testing and provide soil fertility maps to farmers for efficient nutrient management.
  • Regional Disparity in Fertiliser Consumption: Address regional disparities by reducing the demand-supply gaps through soil-testing facilities and other policy measures, considering the importance of irrigation facilities.

Government Initiatives and Concerns:

  • The rising fertiliser subsidy bill has been a fiscal concern. To rationalise fertiliser subsidies, the government has implemented various steps:
    1. Disbursement of all fertiliser subsidies through the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) system since late 2016-17.
    2. Implementation of the New Urea Policy-2015 to maximize indigenous urea production, promote energy efficiency, and rationalise subsidy burden.
    3. Implementation of the Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) scheme for P (phosphate) and K (potash) fertilisers, providing fixed subsidies based on their content.

Question for Ramesh Singh Summary: Agriculture & Food Management- 3
Try yourself:
What percentage of productivity in agriculture does seed quality account for?
View Solution


Challenges and Policy Suggestions for Pesticide Use in Indian Agriculture:

  1. Due to weeds, pests, diseases, and rodents, crop yield losses in India range from 15% to 25%.
  2. While pesticides are crucial for improving crop yields, per-hectare pesticide use in India is significantly lower compared to other countries.
    • India: 0.5 kg/ha
    • United States: 7.0 kg/ha
    • Europe: 2.5 kg/ha
    • Japan: 12 kg/ha
    • Korea: 6.6 kg/ha
  3. Concerns regarding pesticide use in India include:
    • Use without proper guidelines,
    • Substandard pesticide use,
    • Lack of awareness about pesticide use.
  4. These practices lead to pesticide residues in food products, posing threats to the environment and human health.
  5. Policy Suggestions:
    • Educate farmers about the classification of insecticides based on toxicity and suitability for aerial application.
    • Disseminate guidelines from the Central Insecticide Board and Registration Committee (CIBRC) regarding pesticide application, dosage, intervals, and toxicity levels.
    • Emphasize Integrated Pest Management (IPM), involving a judicious mix of cultural, mechanical, biological methods, and need-based use of chemical pesticides.
    • Promote bio-pesticides and bio-control agents for their environmental friendliness, non-toxic nature, and cost-effectiveness, especially among small farmers to enhance agriculture productivity.

Major Policy Initiatives

Pradhan Mantri Kisan SAMPADA Yojana (PMKSY):

  • Launched in 2016-17 to support agriculture and agro-based industries.
  • Components:
    • Mega Food Parks
    • Integrated Cold Chain and Value Addition Infrastructure
    • Infrastructure for Agro-processing Clusters
    • Creation of Backward and Forward Linkages
    • Creation/Expansion of Food Processing and Preservation Capacities
    • Operation Greens

Mega Food Parks Scheme (MFPS):

  • Aims to boost the food processing industry with a strong infrastructure and efficient supply chain.
  • Provides a capital grant of 50% (general areas) or 75% (difficult areas) of the project cost.
  • Each Mega Food Park takes 30-36 months to complete.

Integrated Cold Chain, Value Addition and Preservation:

  • Provides financial assistance of 50% (general areas) or 75% (North Eastern region and difficult areas) of the total cost for cold chain, value addition, and preservation infrastructure.

Modernisation of Abattoirs:

  • Approval for 10 projects in progress, focusing on meat processing. Two projects completed.
  • Consideration for upscaling the scheme.

Technology Upgradation:

  • Financial assistance in grants for setting up new food processing units or upgrading existing ones.
  • Transferred to states under the National Mission on Food Processing (NMFP).

Quality Assurance, Codex Standards, R&D, and Promotional Activities:

  • Focus on ensuring global quality and safety standards.
  • Successful scheme for Food Safety Codex and R&D.

PM-FME (Prime Minister Formalisation of Micro Food Processing Enterprises):

  • Launched under Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.
  • Adopts the One District One Product (ODOP) approach.
  • Supports existing micro food processing units with credit-linked subsidies, grants, and marketing assistance.

Operation Greens:

  • Central sector scheme for integrated development of Tomato, Onion, and Potato (TOP) value chain.
  • Extended to 22 perishable crops and 41 fruits and vegetables under Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhivan.

Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme:

  • Introduced in 2020 to enhance manufacturing capabilities and exports in various sectors, including food processing.
  • Supports segments like ready-to-eat marine products, processed fruits and vegetables, mozzarella cheese, and innovative/organic products.

Institutional Support:

  • Indian Institute of Crop Processing Technology (IICPT)
  • National Meat and Poultry Processing Board (NMPPB)
  • Indian Grape Processing Board (IGPB)
  • National Institute of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship & Management (NIFTEM)

Ad board of PMKSNAd board of PMKSN

Doubling Farm Income

Enhancing farm income: 

Enhancing income in the agricultural sector is crucial not only for the farming community but also as a significant incentive to boost overall agricultural output. The government has prioritized increasing farm income, shifting its strategy from merely raising farm output. The objective is to double farmers' income by 2022, and a seven-point strategy has been introduced to achieve this:

  • Focus on irrigation with increased budgets, aiming for 'per drop, more crop.'
  • Provision of quality seeds and nutrients based on soil health.
  • Strengthening warehousing and cold chains to prevent post-harvest losses.
  • Promotion of value addition through food processing.
  • Creation of a national farm market, eliminating distortions through an e-platform.
  • Mitigation of risks at an affordable cost through suitable farm insurance.
  • Promotion of ancillary activities like poultry, beekeeping, and fisheries.

The government's initiative has received appreciation from agricultural experts and prominent scientist M.S. Swaminathan. Achieving the challenge of doubling farmers' income is deemed possible with a well-designed strategy, effective programs, sufficient resources, and good governance.

Question for Ramesh Singh Summary: Agriculture & Food Management- 3
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What is one of the major concerns regarding pesticide use in Indian agriculture?
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Women Farmers

Role of Women in Agriculture:

  • Women play a crucial role in various aspects of the agriculture sector, contributing to main crop production, livestock, horticulture, post-harvest operations, agro and social forestry, fisheries, and marketing. This significant contribution is acknowledged by the National Commission on Women in 2001. For the sustainable development of agriculture and the rural economy, women's role in agriculture and food production cannot be overlooked.
  • Globally, empirical evidence supports the idea that women play a decisive role in ensuring food security and preserving local agro-biodiversity. Rural women are responsible for the integrated management and use of diverse natural resources to meet daily household needs (Food and Agriculture Organisation, 2011).
  • However, in India, there exists a notable gender disparity in the agriculture sector. According to the 2011 Census, 55% of female main workers were engaged in agricultural labor and cultivation. Unfortunately, only 24% of them were cultivators or owners of operational holdings, with a concentration of 25.7% in marginal and small holdings categories.
  • With the increasing rural-to-urban migration of men, there is a feminization of the agriculture sector in the country, leading to a rise in the number of women involved in multiple roles—as cultivators, entrepreneurs, and laborers. To address this, women farmers should have enhanced access to resources like land, water, credit, technology, and training, requiring critical analysis in the context of India. Recognizing the importance of the entitlements of women farmers, the Government has implemented various schemes to improve their access to resources, bridging policy gaps in the sector.
  • The following measures have been taken to ensure mainstreaming of women in the agriculture sector:
    • Earmarking at least 30% of the budget allocation for women beneficiaries in all ongoing schemes and programs.
    • Initiating women-centric activities.
    • Focus on women Self-Help Groups (SHGs) by providing micro-credit and accurate information, involving them in decision-making bodies.
    • Recognizing the critical role of women in agriculture, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has declared 15 October of every year as Women Farmer's Day.
  • The Indian farm sector requires a gender-specific policy framework to align with existing and emerging realities. Such nuanced policy interventions will not only enhance food security but also promote gender equality, extension services, sustainability, and all-round development in rural areas.
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FAQs on Ramesh Singh Summary: Agriculture & Food Management- 3 - Famous Books for UPSC Exam (Summary & Tests)

1. What are the key differences between Kharif and Rabi crops?
Ans. Kharif crops are sown in the rainy season and harvested in the autumn, while Rabi crops are sown in winter and harvested in the spring.
2. What is crop diversification and why is it important in agriculture?
Ans. Crop diversification refers to the practice of growing a variety of crops on a piece of land. It helps in reducing the risk of crop failure, improving soil health, and providing a balanced diet for farmers.
3. How does natural farming differ from conventional farming methods?
Ans. Natural farming relies on organic practices and minimal use of chemicals, while conventional farming involves the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.
4. What are millets and why are they considered important in agriculture?
Ans. Millets are small-seeded grasses that are a staple food in many parts of the world. They are considered important in agriculture because they are nutritious, drought-resistant, and can grow in poor soil conditions.
5. What are some major policy initiatives in agriculture and food management in India?
Ans. Some major policy initiatives include seed development programs, promotion of crop diversification, storage facilities for agricultural produce, and reforms in the use of fertilizers and pesticides.
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